Rocket Report: Alpha launches and then blows up, ULA to stop selling Atlas V

An ascending rocket leaves flame and smoke in its wake.

Enlarge / China may use a modified version of its Long March 5 rocket for lunar missions. (credit: Luo Yunfei/China News Service via Getty Images)

Welcome to Edition 4.14 of the Rocket Report! Lots of drama this week as Astra’s launch suffered an engine failure during its most recent spaceflight, Virgin Galactic nearly had to abort its high-profile mission in July, and Firefly got its first Alpha rocket off the launch pad.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Firefly makes first launch attempt. On Thursday, Firefly Aerospace launched its first Alpha rocket just before 7 pm local time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and the initial moments of the flight appeared to be nominal. But then there was a delay in reaching supersonic velocity, and at 2 minutes 31 seconds into flight Alpha exploded. “Alpha experienced an anomaly during first-stage ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. As we gather more information, additional details will be provided,” the company said Thursday night.

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